Detroit – A City with Rich History
Detroit, nicknamed “Motor City” due to its links to the automotive industry, is the oldest and most populous city in the Midwestern state of Michigan and is the one place in all the connected United States of America from where you can look south to Canada.
The city was founded by a French explorer and adventurer Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac in the early eighteenth century during a time when the area was known as New France. Detroit in French means “the strait” and is used in reference to the Detroit River which cuts in between the lands, separating east from west and effectively creating the border between the US and Canada.
Present-day Detroit stands on the site of a fort established by Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac in the year 1701. Being an inland port and handling big business, Detroit proved to be a very strategic place and in 1760 it passed on to the hands of the British. Aware of the potential that this rapidly growing town had, the British would not cede it to the Americans until in 1796 after the Americans’ victory in the battle of Fallen Timber. It was then incorporated as a town in 1902.
Want a fun fact about Detroit? Beneath the city lies an enormous salt mine deposit. Yes! The city of Detroit sits on up to 440,000 square kilometers of salt bed, so long that it stretches north into Ontario Canada and south to as far as New York. Interestingly, more than 80 kilometers of roads have been dug beneath the city, to harvest the salt!
The diversity of the people of Detroit was key to the rise in its economy beginning in early eighteen hundreds when the Eerie Canal was opened and subsequently steamship traffic increased. Population for this little town then boomed, and was soon beckoning a million people. Another entrepreneur, this time Henry Ford, founded the automotive industry. The city’s population remained strong until the financial crisis of 2008 when it dipped by a significant 25%. To date, Detroit is still known throughout United States as the “birthplace of the Auto industry”, accounting for more than 22% of all automobiles manufactured in the USA. Here is another fun fact; Belle Island in Detroit is home to the largest island park in the US, bigger than New York’s central park. Belle Island Park was opened in 1884 and is famed for its sights of beauty and tranquility. It is a preferred tourist site.
In its history, Detroit has lived through its fair share of tough times and emerged victorious, a testament to the spirit of its people. It has built an impressive list of landmarks too. Henry Ford’s Estate which has been restored and is now open to visitors, the Belle Island Casino and the GM Renaissance Centre are just but a few. Detroit promises to be one amazing city, with fascinating tales of the past and a bright future, why not go there and experience the incredible?